Of all the Causes which conspire to blind
Man's erring Judgment, and misguide the Mind,
What the weak Head with strongest Byass rules,
Is Pride, the never-failing Vice of Fools.
Whatever Nature has in Worth deny'd,
She gives in large Recruits of needful Pride;
For as in Bodies, thus in Souls, we find
What wants in Blood and Spirits, swell'd with Wind;
Pride, where Wit fails, steps in to our Defence,
And fills up all the mighty Void of Sense!
If once right Reason drives that Cloud away,
Truth breaks upon us with resistless Day;
Trust not your self; but your Defects to know,
Make use of ev'ry Friend--and ev'ry Foe.
The poem also employs a lot of enjambment (the poetic technique of leaving a sentence unfinished on one line, to continue and finish it on the next). The effect is to give the poem a faster pace: the information hits us in rapid succession, forming a clear picture in our minds little by little. It also suggests that Arnold does not wish to create a pretty picture meant for reflection. Instead, the beautiful sight is significant because of the fear and anxiety it inspires in the speaker. Because the poem so wonderfully straddles the line between poetic reflection and desperate uncertainty, it has remained a well-loved piece throughout the centuries.